Coming Up on Viewpoints Show 18-08

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A debilitating and misunderstood malady

David Adam is a reporter and author who has lived with OCD for almost 20 years. He joins the show to explain his disorder and clear up some common misconceptions about the debilitating disorder.

Processing Unimaginable Grief

Grief is something all humans experience in their life. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Author Tom Malmquist suffered a terrible loss: his partner of 10 years died after childbirth. This was compounded a short while later when Malmquist’s father died. He talks about how we processed his grief through writing, and the hope he finds in raising his daughter.

Culture Crash: A Father and Son Duo’s New Creepy Ghost Story

Authors Richard and Billy Chizmar aren’t just partners, they’re family. Their new horror novella, Widow’s Point, tells the story of a haunted lighthouse. Despite its scary plot, the father and son say writing it was a blast.

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18-07 Segment 2: The Power of the Written Word

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With technology constantly changing, new ways of documenting stories are being used to allow people access to reading them. These new inventions have led many people to wonder just how storytelling happened in the past, and what changes have allowed for stories to continue to be told over time.

Storytelling has always been an important part of human communication. In the past, stories relied on oral communication. Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization explains that before written word, stories had to be able to withstand being told from one generation to the next by remaining relevant. He also explains that there were rare exceptions to this rule, in which some stories were lost and then rediscovered, a feat that Dr. Puchner says is very lucky. The only way to ensure that a text survived from one generation to the next was to continue to verbally communicate the story.

Since then, many technologies have been created that increased the accessibility to written text. These developments have allowed for new writing techniques to surface. One of these elements of modern writing that Dr. Puchner explains is introspection, which was not always important in literature, but emerged about a thousand years ago when the first novel was written, and since then, it has become an important aspect of storytelling. The written word has had many other significant impacts, not just on the way humans write, but also on how humans understand the world.

Guest:

  • Martin Puchner, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University and author of The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization

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Culture Crash 18-07: The New Era of Science Fiction

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Stand-alone science fiction stories are having a moment. In the past few years, smart sci-fi has gone from something of a forgotten genre to at the forefront of the streaming wars and the cineplex.
Netflix’s Black Mirror pumps out unique, interesting stand-alone episodes imagining the future of technology. Amazon’s recently released Electric Dreams is trying something similar with a twist: they’re modernizing some of the great stories written by Philip K. Dick, as an anthology show of their own.
Even at the movies, stand-alone science fiction is making a comeback in an unlikely place: The Cloverfield franchise. Movie franchises these days are almost entirely serialized: Each Marvel movie builds on everything that came before it. But Cloverfield may be JJ Abram’s most clever trick, because the movies are hardly related. Cloverfield was released in 2008 to high marks from critics and made its budget back over 6 times. Then, in 2016, a mysterious sequel was announced. Except…it wasn’t really a sequel at all. It was a previously written script that they tweaked a few things here and there to make into a “Cloverfield” movie called 10 Cloverfield Lane. Essentially, it’s an entirely stand-alone movie shoe-horned into a franchise so it could be made. The Super Bowl-surprise movie The Cloverfield Paradox was a similar story . As is Overlord, the franchise’s next entry coming to theaters later this year. All 4 of the Cloverfield movies that have been announced or released so far come from different writers and starring entirely new casts, making this a franchise unlike any other.
In a time when big budget tentpoles have to be part of a larger universe, Abrams has found a way to disguise interesting projects he’s producing into name brand, helping these movies get seen and helping original sci-fi find its seat at the table again.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up on Viewpoints Show 18-07

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The Graduate, 50 Years Later

Few movies become as iconic as Mike Nichols’s December 1967 classic, The Graduate. The film became a touchstone for Baby Boomers and became emblematic of the generation’s desire to stand out from the generations before them. We look at some of the elements that made The Graduate so memorable.

The Power of the Written Word

Storytelling is a human impulse that has guided civilizations as far back as we can remember. Martin Puchner is a scholar on the subject and takes us through the history of writing stories down, and how those written accounts have become so important to our understanding of the world.

Culture Crash: The New Era of Science Fiction

There was a time when science fiction stories had to be a part of some established arc or it wouldn’t get made. Now, thanks to Black Mirror, Electric Dreams, and the Cloverfield franchise, stand-alone sci-fi is thriving once again.

18-06 Segment 1: Making Philosophy Relatable Through Humor

 

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Philosophy is not often considered a light conversational topic, and it even more rarely is associated with being humorous. However, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, would disagree.

“It’s not that philosophy’s so funny, it’s that the jokes explain philosophical ideas, and somehow make it funny,” said Klein. Cathcart and Klein use the storylines of jokes that do not initially appear to have any relation to philosophy, and then find a way to apply a philosophical belief to it allowing for the meaning to become more clear. According to Cathcart the study of philosophy arms people with the skills needed to think, argue, and make a point more clearly.

Listen to Klein and Cathcart explain some philosophical thought by using jokes, and hear their opinion on whether they think the deepest thinkers of the past would have benefitted from using jokes to explain their ideas.

Guest:

  • Thomas Cathcart, co-author of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes
  • Daniel Klein, co-author of Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes

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18-06 Segment 2: Norwich, Vermont’s Olympic Formula

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During the Olympics, most of the focus is on the talent and success of the individual athletes. Yet, Karen Crouse, a writer for the New York Times and author of Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence, believes that one small town deserves the same attention.

Norwich, Vermont, a town with a population of 3,000, has produced eleven Olympians since 1984. Inspired by the instant connection she felt with the tiny town because of her personal experiences as a swimmer in Santa Clara, California, another Olympic powerhouse, Crouse wanted to discover just what it was that was helping Norwich become so successful.

After talking with the athletes and their families, she noticed two factors that contributed to these athletes’ successes. The first was a domino effect, when one individual witnesses the excellence of another, it normalizes the experience and allows the goal to appear more attainable. Another reason Crouse attributes to Norwich’s success is the role that the adults play in the athletes lives. They do not tell them what to do, but rather, encourage them to make their own choices. These practices have allowed Norwich to create a community that promotes a healthy environment that breeds future success.

Guest:

  • Karen Crouse, writer for New York Times and author of Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence

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Culture Crash 18-06: YouTube’s Logan Paul Problem

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Tweens, teens, and young adults aren’t lining up to buy DVD box sets anymore. By and large, they’re watching things exclsively online. Netflix shows like Stranger Things are big, sure, but one of the biggest entertainment spectacles of all for today’s high school crowd are YouTube vlogs.
YouTubers like Tyler Oakley or Miranda Sings have millions of subscribers and they typically release videos weekly. Those videos regularly rack up hundreds of thousands of views, and occasionally hit the millions, views driven primarily or entirely by 13 to 25 year olds. This videos can mean big money for YouTube stars thanks to ads and sponsors.
The biggest of these stars is- or was- Logan Paul. Paul is internet-famous for his prank and parody videos. In the final week of 2017, Paul was in Japan filming his usual brand of videos: in one, he and his friends dressed up as Pokemon characters and pretended to be playing for real on a busy street corner.
His channel was occasionally criticized for racism or misogyny but mainly, his fans kept watching and those who disliked him simply ignored him. But in the first week of the new year, he uploaded a video many say made light of suicide. He and his friends were in Japan’s notorious Sea of Trees or Suicide Forest when they stumbled upon a dead body- a man who had apparently committed suicide hours earlier. Instead of deleting the tape and leaving the forest, Paul posted the video, including footage of the body itself and of Paul laughing and joking around in the moments after finding the body.
The backlash was quick and fierce. Within a few days, he removed the video from his channel and issued an apology. But forgiveness hasn’t come so quickly- many internet users have called for Paul to be banned from YouTube. Though YouTube has said he won’t be banned for this, over a month later, Paul still hasn’t returned to his regular schedule of making silly vlogs.
In the age of internet viral-videos, entertainers are constantly trying to push the envelope. Logan Paul’s situation offers us a look at how the internet marketplace will regulate itself without typical FCC or network executives overseeing content creation. How and when Paul is able to put his suicide forest video behind him will set a benchmark for what it takes to overcome controversy in the wild wild West of internet memes.
Resources for people contemplating suicide are available at suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

I’m Evan Rook.